Waitomo Caves Things to Do

  • Training.
    Training.
    by John195123
  • Initial Abseil.
    Initial Abseil.
    by John195123
  • Guides of Black Water Rafting Co.
    Guides of Black Water Rafting Co.
    by John195123

Most Recent Things to Do in Waitomo Caves

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    Black Water Rafting Co. Waitomo

    by John195123 Written Feb 17, 2014
    Training.
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    There are a few caves in the area, some offering calm boat rides down glow-worm-lit caves. There are dry caving trips that test your mettle. Then there's Black Water Rafting's trips, that combine abseiling through a small hole in the ground, a pitch-black zip line, and a 15-foot jump into shockingly cold water. While you get a chance to tube under the mesmerizing, inexplicably beautiful glow worms, that's not what you'll probably remember. You will remember pressing onward as the ceiling descends toward a narrowing channel of water, where all you can see is a small opening of air. Beyond that opening is blackness, but you can hear the roar of a raging waterfall- that you must climb.

    If you've never gone caving, this is a wonderful introduction and one of the best experiences I've had anywhere. It tests your mind and your body.

    My thoughts when leaving the cave: "We exited the cave unaware, for a time, that we had left. The secret dark of night was only revealed by a marvelous display of stars. We made it."

    They provide the gear and bit of training. You provide the nerve and muscle.

    Refreshments are served after the trip.

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    Spectacular visitor centre

    by Kakapo2 Updated Apr 20, 2011

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    Natural outdoor feeling inside.

    This breathtaking construction has really taken me in.

    It was built after a massive fire that destroyed the visitor centre in 2005.

    The new building is spectacular, using native materials and blending into the lush native forest surroundings, creating an enclosed and open space at the same time.

    The rounded transparent roof which is attached to criss-crossed wooden beams makes the visitor centre and light and airy space.

    Under this roof you find a gift shop, café/restaurant and, of course, toilet facilities. In a theatre you can watch a 15 minute film about the people, places and stories of Waitomo, and in an exhibition area you find information about the new visitor centre. A conference and events centre completes the complex.

    For its outstanding architecture and sustainability the visitor centre was awarded the Architecture, Commercial Engineering Excellence and the Clever Solution Awards at the Timber Design Awards in October 2010.

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    The other caves that can be visited

    by Kakapo2 Updated Apr 20, 2011

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    Photo taken off the poster at the carpark.

    The other two caves that can be visited are Ruakuri and Aranui Caves.

    On photos they surely look more impressive than the main cave – and photography is allowed.

    I have not been in either of these two caves as I thought I had spent too much money on the Glow Worm Cave already. So the following information is from write-ups on the official website and other sources on the internet.

    According to Maori legend, Ruakuri Cave was discovered 400 to 500 years ago by a young Maori hunting for birds. He was attacked by wild dogs outside the entrance. Thus the name Ruakuri, “rua” meaning den, and “kuri” meaning dog, so: dogs’ den.

    Ruakuri is the largest one of the three main caves and was rediscovered by James Holden in 1904. Obviously it is possible to abseil 100 metres into a cave named Mangapu Cave. Surely not for me ;-))

    The cave was re-opened in 2005 and is wheelchair-accessible. It has a spiral entrance, and you also see glow worms and underground waterfalls.

    According to the caves’ website, Ruakuri Cave is New Zealand's longest guided underground walking tour. Allow 2 hours for a visit.

    Aranui Cave is the smallest cave of the three main ones and located in the Ruakuri Scenic Reserve, a five minutes drive (2 km) from the main cave. It is named after Ruruku Aranui, a local Maori who discovered the cave in 1910. (In other sources I have read 1911.)

    It has a natural entrance and is the smallest of Waitomo's three main caves. Unlike the Glow Worm and Ruakuri Caves it is a dry cave without a river running through it, and there are no glow worms. Instead there are resident cave weta which are endemic New Zealand insects looking a bit like huge long-horned grasshoppers (but are flightless and nocturnal). Allow 45 minutes for a visit.

    If you have time and never been in such caves, you might consider a combo ticket.

    In total there are about 300 limestone caves in the Waitomo region.

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    The boat ride

    by Kakapo2 Written Apr 20, 2011

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    Photo taken off the posters at the carpark.

    This is the highlight of the tour – when you slide through the dark, the ceiling of the cave lit up like a night sky lit up by millions of stars.

    The stretch of river/cave visited is not very long, so the guide pulls the boat along the metal ropes attached to the walls of the cave several times.

    A guy on my tour asked why he travelled along the same route several times, and the guide said that was in order to see the glow worms glowing from different angles.

    This surely is only part of the truth. If they threw the people off the boat after five minutes it would be difficult to charge them NZ$ 46 for the tour…

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    The Cathedral and other underground formations

    by Kakapo2 Written Apr 20, 2011

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    The Cathedral is the highlight of the walking tour. It is on the lower level of the Waitomo Cave. The acoustics in this 18 metre high enclosed cavern is impressive. You will hear that New Zealand’s mega-famous opera diva Dame Kiri Te Kanawa has sung in this part of the cave and was more than delighted with the purity of the sound.

    The tour starts at the upper entrance of the cave, and after the Cathedral you walk along a low narrow passage to the so called Tomo. This is a deep limestone shaft – and part of the Waitomo Caves’ name. This 16 metre vertical shaft was created by an ancient waterfall. Today it only flows in heavy rain.

    Other formations are the Catacombs, the Pipe Organ and the Banquet Chamber. They are in the upper – and dry - part of the cave.

    You will see relatively small stalactites and stalagmites. You might know that they grow extremely slowly. There is no absolute timeframe about the speed of growth of stalactites and stalagmites as it depends on the concentration of lime in the water, the CO2 content of the water and in the cave, the amount of the dripping water, and the temperature. Also the shape of the formation plays a role. A rough measure is 8 to 15 millimetres per 100 years, meaning a stalactite of one metre is about 10,000 years old – but not exactly.

    Sinter tubes can grow relatively quickly but once it becomes a stalactite the speed is reduced dramatically because the same amount of material is dropped on a bigger space. The speed of the matching stalagmite is different again.

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    Guided tour of the Glowworm Caves

    by Kakapo2 Updated Apr 20, 2011

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    Guided tour - no photos!

    You cannot access the caves on your own but on guided tours only.

    These guided tours of the Main Cave include a 250 metre walk through the cave and a boat ride through the glow worm grotto.

    Tours depart every half hour from 9am to 5pm. Additional tours at 5.30pm between 31 October and Easter Monday, as well as at 8am between 26 December and 28 February.

    The tour takes about 45 minutes.

    Photographing is not allowed in the Main Cave while it is allowed in Ruakuri and Aranui Caves. Of course, you are never allowed to use flash anywhere near glow worms, and you should be absolutely quiet around the insects to not disturb them.

    I cannot say that I found the old man’s jokes of our guide very funny. But you might be lucky to have a different guide – or lucky enough to share this unfunny guy’s humour ;-)))

    Phone numbers and email contact in my General Tips.

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    Ruakuri Cave

    by jag17 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Inside The Cave

    My friend and I had planned to do the Black Labyrinth tour. Unfortunately it had rained several inches the previous night, and the cave was flooded. They were able to schedule us on a walking tour of the Ruakuri Cave instead. It certainly was not the trip we had planned, but it was very interesting (and dry). Be sure and check the web site for all the adventures offered by this company.

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    You have to see Waitomo Caves

    by Sduarte Updated Apr 4, 2011
    One of the many rivers in the area
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    There are a bunch of ways to see the caves and glow worms, but the best way is to use Black Water rafting company. They take you out to the middle of nowhere and you abseil down a canyon-like cave until you reach the underground river. There you pick up your inner tube and ride it down the rapids in the caves. Awesome, awesome adventure. It can be a little tough to come back out of the cave because you're walking upstream but it's well worth it.

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    Black Water Rafting

    by Lozza_9 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    This is a excellent activity to do - There are different rafting activities also available. Sometimes I was scared but I am really glad i did it. My boots where full of water and I was tired at the end. They supplied bagels and soup after to warm you up.

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    Waitomo Cave

    by tuff Updated Apr 4, 2011

    Waitomo glow worm caves ý Besides the usual limestone cave formation, the cave contains the New Zealand glow worm which emits a light to attract flying insects as good. A guided tour boat ride through the darkness reveal the thousands of glow worm lights hanging from the cave ceiling is truly spectacular.

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    Black Water Rafting

    by kiwigal_1 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Blackwater rafting

    When my friend Jay came to New Zealand in August 2002 we decided that we wanted to do something adventurous. We picked Black Water Rafting as we thought it would be a good way to see the Waitomo Caves and do something a little different. I had never been blackwater rafting before but always wanted to try it out!

    We went with a group with guides from Black Water Rafting Co. They are located on the road to the Waitomo Caves on the left. They have half day and full day excursions. It was excellent fun! I'd certainly do it again if I had to go through the caves in the future.

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    Caving Adrenalin

    by traveller21 Written Sep 15, 2010
    Practicing to Abseil
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    It was amazing. I took the 5 hour trip Black Abyss with the Legendary Black Water Rafting Co. in Waitomo Caves. It was just brill. The guides explained everything clearly and were a great laugh! We were only three clients so had a "personalised" tour. Due to the high rain fall in the recent days the water was high but still safe, we did have to skip a part of the tour and we ended up doing it in 3hours thanks to the water rush! it was just spectacular, abseil into the dark, zip line through the dark with beautiful glow worms surrounding you, jump into the black water, floating and clambering up through waterfalls and intricate cave system. Even more breathtaking than the New Zealand night sky! It is definitly something I would want to do again.

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    Caving Adrenalin

    by traveller21 Written Sep 15, 2010
    Practicing to Abseil
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    It was amazing. I took the 5 hour trip Black Abyss with the Legendary Black Water Rafting Co. in Waitomo Caves. It was just brill. The guides explained everything clearly and were a great laugh! We were only three clients so had a "personalised" tour. Due to the high rain fall in the recent days the water was high but still safe, we did have to skip a part of the tour and we ended up doing it in 3hours thanks to the water rush! it was just spectacular, abseil into the dark, zip line through the dark with beautiful glow worms surrounding you, jump into the black water, floating and clambering up through waterfalls and intricate cave system. Even more breathtaking than the New Zealand night sky! It is definitly something I would want to do again.

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    Caving Tour with Green Glow Eco-Adventures

    by one51s Written Aug 20, 2010

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    My B&B recommended this tour from a "new" tour operator. I tried it because of the great price, but got even more than I expected. Paul runs a FULL-DAY private caving tour, customized as you like: abseiling (rappelling), rock climbing, caving, and photography. Bring a D-SLR and he'll help you get fantastic pictures in the cave. He even provided dry box, tripod, and 2 external flashes!

    After this tour I recommended Green Glow to several people. One couple I met in Japan went on the tour and loved it! It's FAR better than the "tourist trap" Waitomo caves (Glowworm, Ruakuri, Aranui). I saw plenty of glowworms with Paul and more importantly, had the opportunity to stop, relax, and photograph them! With Green Glow you will get much more enjoyment (and better photos = better memories) for your money than with the standard tourist-ripoff tours. I can't wait to get back to NZ and do Paul's tour again!

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    Los gusanos de luz / Glowworm

    by elpariente Written Jan 27, 2010

    La parte de la cueva donde se ven las luciérnagas con más detalle tiene un lago y te mueves poer él en un barco. La luz de las líneas de las luciérnagas en el techo en contraste con la oscuridad de la cueva, el silencio y el moverte muy suavemente en el lago es una experiencia inolvidable
    La luciérnaga de Nueva Zelanda es una mosca que en la fase de larvas, pupas y adultos de ambos sexos esluminosa. En la etapa larva la luz atrae a las presas , mientras que en la pupa y adulto la luz atrae al sexo opuesto.
    Las larvas producen un hilo pegajoso en el que la presa se enreda y y asi se come al insecto atrapado. Una larva puede producir hasta 70 líneas y dependiendo del tamaño de la larva, las líneas varían en longitud desde menos de 1 cm a 50 cm.

    The part of the cave where you see the glowworms with more detail is in a lake and you move on it by boat . The light of the lines in the roof , contrasting with the cave darkness , the silence and the very soft movement in the lake is unforgettable
    The New Zealand glowworm is a fly that in the phase of larvae, pupae, and adults of both sexes are all luminous. In the larval stage the light attracts prey in the form of other organisms, while in the pupal and adult stages the light attracts the opposite sex.
    The larva hauls up the fishing line on which the prey is entangled and consumes the trapped insect. Up to 70 lines are let down by one larva and, depending on the size of the larva, the lines vary in length from under 1 cm to 50 cm.

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